I find during SENCO training, and conversations with colleagues, that there is still a lack of recognition of the significance of prematurity , as an underlying cause of the changing pattern of childhood disability in the 21st Century.
For those wishing to either revisit, or update on this fact, attached is a position statement I wrote a few years ago, which, combined with the new Report posted on this website on Prematurely Born Children, from Dr Patricia Champion in New Zealand , will give and overview of the developments we have seen in the last quarter of a century .
Teacher Toolkit Podcast: Ross Morrison McGill interviews Professor Barry Carpenter about his career in Special Educational Needs.
This interview carries a particular focus on the education of children born prematurely, and interest shared by Ross McGill, as a Father to a pre term son, and Professor Carpenter, as an Educator and Researcher in this area.
It is important as more children born prematurely enter our school system, (and that is some 50,000 per annum) that their story can be shared with their peers.
The Champion Centre in New Zealand has been a pioneer in developing evidence based interventions to enhance and enrich the development of children born prematurely.
Now their Founder Dr Patricia Champion , MBE , has collaborated in developing this beautiful and poignant story for all children, ‘Earlybird’.
As she says:
“As a children’s story about premature birth, it is unique internationally. Parents of premature babies frequently told me that they did not have a good, or a special story to share with their growing children about their early birth. So, we decided to create a beautiful picture book that would help parents support children born as ‘earlybirds’ to make sense of their early experience,”
Champion Centre Founder and book co-editor, Dr. Patricia Champion, MBE.
This is question I am often asked. My key thought in responding is that these children are often ‘wired differently’ – their brains are not configured as those of a full term infant might be. This does not automatically imply that they will have a learning disability or special educational need, but teachers need to be prepared that that these children may not perceive and deduct from information given, in the ways we usually expect from children.
Indeed, to repeat again the phrase given to me by the mother of a boy born at 24 weeks gestation after observing his first term in school, he is ‘wired differently’ . As a as a Teacher I then have so ask , “so of he is wired differently , in what ways does he learn differently ? And when I know how he learns differently, in what ways do I teach differently?”
Many teachers find the Engagement Profile (http://engagement4learning.com), a useful observational tool to profile neurodiversity in children, particularly as we start a new academic year.
This article may guide and refresh thinking around how we engage children whose learning pathways are different due to prematurity of birth.